“Forge through ambiguity.” These were the words of advice that we were given at the beginning of our journeys as American India Foundation, William J. Clinton Fellows. At the time, I had no idea what this advice meant, and in fact didn’t pay much attention to it. Now, 10 months later, I have found those three words ringing in my ears, for I realised that forging through ambiguity was not just advice – it was the ultimate challenge that this Fellowship presented.
Ambiguity, I found, seeped into every pore of my life. I found myself navigating waters I had never imagined I would need to navigate. The desperate question of, “what do I do?” popped into my head too many times to count. I asked it when a mob of people on the Mumbai train created a sea of humans, and with their force, pushed me out, breaking my sandal in the process. I asked it when my (wonderful) mentor asked me to find village-level on violence against the girl child in districts where data was scant. And I asked it when a man I met in rural Jamshedpur, Binod, showed me the horrors of a world devoid of compassion as he recounted the harrowing story of his wife’s preventable death during childbirth. I asked this question all those times and more, which often times led to many other questions. Why was there no data on violence against the girl child? It’s important, isn’t it? How is it that compassion failed when all Binod needed was a shred of it? How is it that a group of people can create a force so powerful that it pushes me to a point of breaking? What hurt was that in many of those situations, I never truly found answers. Which then begged the question of, “How will I choose to forge through ambiguity?”
Uncertainty is often times constant – at work, in life, wherever. It’s scary and emotional to face and it often unearths your true character – for better or worse. It means working incredibly hard to take one small step forward only to find that you still can’t see what’s in front of you.
And so, I met ambiguity. In fact, she engulfed me. In the folds of her cloudy, blue sari hid many realities that I had never seen. I met ambiguity. And I am deeply grateful. I think I will choose to never ignore those realities that she showed me again. I met ambiguity. And she made me question. I met ambiguity and she knocked me down. But she also dared me to swallow my fear, pull myself back up, and go forward into the unknown with grace, knowing that I will probably get knocked down again. I met ambiguity. And she was my enemy. But she was also my teacher. I met ambiguity. And I think she liked me. For one thing, I could never shake her off; in fact, I think she’s here to stay. For another, every so often she gave me a lamp that showed me a bit of the way. I met ambiguity and I’m still figuring her out.